Historical Dictionary of the British Empire

By James S. Olson; Robert S. Shadle | Go to book overview

I

IBN SA'UD, ABDUL 'AZIZ. Born in Riyadh in 1880, Ibn Sa'ud spent his early years in exile after his family had been driven from its homeland in 1891. In 1902, he led a daring raid from Kuwait* and seized Riyadh, the home of the Sa'ud family, and made it the base for the revival of the Wahhabis, a puritanical Muslim sect. By 1906, he had taken control of the Nejd region, and, in 1913, his forces captured Hasa. During World War I, he declined to join the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire, which had been hinted at as early as 1912. After postwar pledges were exchanged, the guerrilla operations were organized to some extent by British liaison T. E. Lawrence.* Instead of cooperating with the British, Ibn Sa'ud worked to regain all the territory in Arabia that his ancestors had controlled. Backed by an army of religious fundamentalists known as the Brethren, he conquered Asir in 1920. In 1921, he overthrew the House of Rashid, a traditional enemy of the Sa'ud family, and claimed the Rashid family's title, sultan of the Nejd. He eventually came into military conflict with Hashemite leader Husein,* King of the Hejaz, whom he dethroned in 1924. Many British policymakers recognized belatedly how misplaced was their confidence in Husein as the nucleus of a pro-British Arabia. Ibn Sa'ud obtained prestigious Mecca by annexing Husein's lands in 1926. Having united the four regions of the peninsula, he declared the new kingdom of Saudi Arabia* in 1932 and assumed the title of king. He assured his dynasty's hold on the regime and deterred any rival opposition by appointing his relatives as tribal sheikhs. The discovery of oil in 1933 and the lucrative leasing concessions he obtained from Standard Oil of California and other petroleum firms made Ibn Sa'ud and his family members rich. Blind and feeble in his old age, he left affairs of state to

-546-

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Historical Dictionary of the British Empire
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • A 1
  • B 93
  • C 230
  • D 349
  • E 390
  • F 416
  • G 448
  • H 494
  • I 546
  • J 593
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